Book Review: Things That Matter

I am a Charles Krauthammer fan– the paraplegic FOX news contributor and Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated columnist. The man is wicked (like MENSA) smart. Today, I’m reviewing his book Things That Matter.

His personal story is very interesting. He became paralyzed after diving into a swimming pool of water during his first year of medical school. Somehow, he was allowed to continue on in medical school and finished with his class. He specialized in psychiatry and discovered a new form a mania called “Secondary Mania” so he has accomplishments in both medicine and writing which warms my heart a little as a nurse and author myself. 
This non-fiction title is a collection of his columns written over 30+ years in journalism which should be celebrated but is perhaps a little of what I didn’t like about the book. It feels dated reading about time and events that are 30 years passed. I liked his more current columns better and his essay on stem-cell research and cloning has some of the best arguments as to why we shouldn’t march down this path.
Some of his arguments against cloning:
1. Research cloning gives man too much power for evil. There would be an unbalance of power or leverage over people.
2. Slippery slope. What we know about using cloned eggs for research is that they are destroyed in the process at the blastocyst stage. This occurs at about one week of development when the individual cells are removed from inside the egg. Charles’s argument here is that scientists will push the removal of these cells further out developmentally. “Let me just wait until week 3 to remove the cells . . . ” and so on. “Violate the blastocyst and the practice will incur you to violating the fetus or even the infant tomorrow.”
3. Manufacturing difficulties. If it is allowed to use research cloning for the development of cells for research– you are then creating life for the mere purpose of destroying it and will ultimately predispose us to ruthless utilitarianism about human life itself. You need human female eggs for the process but extracting egg cells from women is difficult, expensive and potentially dangerous. In light of this shortage, scientist are fusing human DNA with cow and rabbit’s eggs because of this shortage of human egg cells.

As far as some of the other columns, you definitely gain an understanding that he loves chess and the Washington Nationals which was a little hard for this non-sport fan to relate to.

I found myself picking and choosing what to read. He says he’s planning two more books about contemporary issues which I’ll definitely pick-up.
But, if you’ve followed his career, are male and lived through the times he talks about as an adult– I’m sure you’ll have a much fonder love of the book. Also his liberal to conservative conversion is pretty interesting.
What do you think of cloning humans? Are you for or against and if for– under what circumstances?

** All italicized portions come directly from the book.

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